Hilo mall reopens, but most retailers inside still closed

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald A sign tells patrons about Prince Kuhio Plaza's safety measures while people walk around the mall on Saturday in Hilo. The mall has hired more housekeeping that disinfects and sanitizes touched surfaces every 30 minutes.

  • Kelsey Walling/Tribune-Herald Zoe, left, and Salome Douglas look at comics on Saturday while browsing Enjoy Comics in Prince Kuhio Plaza. Enjoy Comics was one of the only stores opened on the mall's first day since the stay-at-home order.

Prince Kuhio Plaza opened for the first time on Saturday since the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered stores.

The mall’s opening came after Gov. David Ige’s latest proclamation that allows “low-risk” businesses to reopen Thursday, so long as they follow social distancing guidelines.

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When the mall opened at 11 a.m., customers were greeted with hand-sanitizing stations, social distancing reminders and taped off common areas.

Although the mall was open for people to walk around, only four stores and one restaurant were operating inside.

The Hawaiian Jewelry Store and Hallmark reopened, but only allowed one customer at a time inside the shops. Cinnabon was open for takeout only.

Enjoy Comics opened up, officially allowing people to come inside to browse and shop.

Mike Sado, owner of Enjoy Comics, was happy to welcome customers back after a long month and a half away.

“We are so happy to be open,” Sado said. “It has been difficult, and we were so ready to be back here.”

The family-owned store faced rough times when the stay-at-home order was enforced on March 25.

“I was really worried for a while, but the fact that we can be open is awesome,” Sado said.

Before Sado knew they could reopen on Saturday, he moved part of the store to his house and started projects inside the store to utilize the time.

“We were not prepared to open this weekend,” Sado said. “But we used the three days to get everything ready to go.”

Sado is keeping up with safety precautions with hand sanitizer available at the front door and social distancing measures displayed in the store.

Although it’s been a hard time, Sado is excited to be open again for lovers of comics.

“I’ve always loved reading comics, and I’ve been collecting since 1989,” Sado said. “I want to pass that love onto the next generation, and I’m excited to be able to do that again.”

Sado was surprised to see many of his mall neighbors not opened yet.

“Store owners have had a hard time getting the supplies to reopen,” Prince Kuhio Plaza manager Daniel Kea said. “They have been trying to get hand sanitizer and plexiglass to help keep up with safety measures.”

More stores do plan to open on Monday and throughout next week, Kea said.

Many of the larger stores like Macy’s and Sears are still working to get employees back and ready to go.

A list of all the open shops and restaurants can be found on Prince Kuhio Plaza website at https://www.princekuhioplaza.com/en/directory/open-stores.html.

Until then, the mall will continue taking proactive measures to ensure safety while people shop.

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Patrons can visit Prince Kuhio Plaza 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Monday-Saturday and 12 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday.

Email Kelsey Walling at kwalling@hawaiitribune-herald.com

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